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Will United Get Sued by Doctor Who Was Violently Deboarded?
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Summary: Can the doctor who was ejected from a United flight this week win a lawsuit against the airline?

It was the manhandling seen around the world. On Monday, shocking cell phone video showed a United passenger being dragged off the plane after being uprooted from his seat by Chicago police. The man, who ended up with injuries, reportedly was chosen by the airline to get off of the plane due to overbooking and refused to leave.

Other passengers on the plane recorded the incident, and they uploaded the videos online. One video posted by Audra D. Bridges has already been viewed 19 million times on Facebook. In her caption, she wrote, “Please share this video. We are on this flight. United airlines overbooked the flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their crew could have a seat. This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted.”

  
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The man was later allowed to reboard Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, KY, and another passenger recorded him looking solemn as he muttered to himself, “Please kill me.”

United, not king of the unfriendly skies, swiftly responded to the incident; but their sentiment was met with controversy. At first, they explained that the passenger was randomly selected to deboard after they had sought out volunteers, but that he had refused so they called the police. It is common practice for airlines to overbook flights and to entice volunteers to give up their seat with incentives such as money and a hotel room; and for this flight, United was unsuccessful at getting the volunteers and needed four seats to accommodate crew members.

The first response from United was deemed not apologetic to the man, and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz double downed on Twitter by repeating that story and saying United had tried to “re-accommodate” the dragged doctor, who was later identified as David Dao. Munoz’s tweet was wildly mocked online, but it was his next communication that proved to be even more polarizing.

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In a company email, Munoz commended the United crew for what had happened, and he appeared to blame the victim, stating that he had been “belligerent” when asked to leave.

Overall, the incident along with United’s response has already cost them big. Not only are they a national punchline, but today, it was reported that their stock dropped, losing the company $800 million.



So what’s next for Dr. Dao? According to Forbes, a lawsuit may be on route for United Airlines. The publication spoke with an aviation lawyer who said the man on tape had a heck of a lawsuit on his hands.

“First of all it’s wrong. It’s their problem to get their people where they have to be to work, even if it means flying them on another carrier. They shouldn’t be forcibly removing people by lottery,” Jim Keindler of Kreindler & Kreindler said.

United states that it’s their written policy to deboard paid customers if needed, but they could face liability for any injuries Dao sustained as well as emotional distress.

What do you think of United and this incident? Let us know in the comments below.  



 

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